by Jassy Mackenzie

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Sensuous but stifled New York City photographer Erin Mitchell thinks going to South Africa on assignment will be the perfect getaway. But when a flash food washes away Erin's vehicle and she is stranded at a luxury safari lodge, Erin's romantic working vacation takes an interesting turn. She awakens from her near-drowning and meets her rescuer, Nicholas—hot and brilliant, successful and caring—not at all like her abusive husband. At Leopard Rock in the steamy South African heat, Erin faces the toughest choices of her life.
Nicholas is ripped, he's smart, and he's "no strings attached." To give in or not to give in drowns Erin's senses as she struggles with two impossible goals: ignore the exquisite physical charms of her host and conceal every last detail whenever her controlling husband calls. On the other side, Nicholas faces impossible choices of his own, as the bon-vivant playboy may just possibly collide with feelings more powerful than lust.
Erotic. Exotic. Wild. Drowning sizzles in the African heat as one woman is stretched to the breaking point by the strength of her vows and the intensity of her seething primal desires.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938231964
Publisher: HighLine Editions
Publication date: 06/14/2016
Edition description: New edition
Pages: 210
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jassy de Jong was inspired to write her first novel, Random
Violence, after getting hijacked at gunpoint in her own driveway. She has written several other thrillers including Stolen Lives and The Place for Fallen Horses. De Jong also edits a hair and beauty magazine.
She lives in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg with her partner Dion,
two horses and two cats.

Read an Excerpt


By Jassy de Jong

Astor + Blue Editions

Copyright © 2014 Jassy De Jong
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-938231-98-8


I don't remember drowning.

I know it happened, of course, and I'm sure, locked away somewhere deep inside my mind, is the memory of what it was like. There are glimpses, now and again. The moment when the road began to collapse under the tires. How the floodwater streaming over the bridge stopped pushing against the car and started carrying it. The bobbing and bouncing as the little Toyota Yaris became suddenly unsteady, tumbling cork-like down the river before water began spurting inside.

It happened very fast. Perhaps I was screaming, shouting, struggling in panic. Or maybe I was paralyzed by shock while the car rocked and spun. I don't remember if my life flashed past me or not. I don't even know if I closed my eyes. If they were open, I would have been watching as the brown, foamy floods rushed in, covering me as it forced out the air, so that I was able to feel the water's cold kiss on my breasts, my neck, my lips ...

I'd never been afraid of water until that day. I'd always loved it. I adored swimming, submerging myself in its cool, blue depths, becoming one with it. I reveled in the feel of my long, dark hair streaming out behind me, my body all but weightless, my pale limbs shimmering in pearlescent hues.

In fact, when my husband had asked me what my favorite sexual fantasy was, I'd answered that it would be making love in water.

We'd been in bed at the time, in his elegant Soho loft apartment. It was a few months earlier, soon after we'd come back from honeymoon. We'd had a fight the previous night and he'd gone to bed silent and angry. When I'd awoken the next morning to find his fingers tracing the curve of my breast, I'd shivered in delight at the intimacy of his touch, and knew I was forgiven.

"So," Vince had said, his voice soft, "what do you fantasize about sexually, Erin? Tell me. I want to know. Give me your favorite fantasy. Your wildest one."

The question had taken me by surprise. What could I think of? How could I impress Vince with my answer?

"My fantasy?" I'd repeated, playing for time, my brain muzzy from sleep and confusion and desire. His fingertips were circling my hardening nipple now. He pinched it gently and I gasped. "Let me think ... It's ... it's making love in water."

The minute I voiced it, I knew it was true. I pictured us in a clear lake somewhere, sun dancing on its surface. I imagined the flow of water against my naked skin as I waded toward him, wrapping my arms around his lean, toned body. He would smooth his hands down my back, caressing the curves of my buttocks as we kissed, his tongue sliding into my mouth. He'd hold me close to him, and as we moved out into the depths, our bodies would grow lighter, buoyed up by the lapping waves ...

My thoughts had been interrupted by Vince's laugh.

"In water?" he'd asked. "That's not very original. I expected you to come up with something more imaginative that that, baby."

The warm friction of his tongue on my nipple had taken the sting from his words.


"I was thinking of something really adventurous," he'd said. "Are you up for it?"

"Of course," I'd agreed quickly, hoping enthusiasm could make up for my own lack of imagination.

"Touch me while I tell you." He guided my hand down and I closed my fingers around his shaft, which was fully erect and felt warm to my grasp. I stroked him in the way he'd showed me he liked it while he whispered in my ear, "I want us to go to the couch on the balcony, and have a quickie there. It's getting light now, so there's the risk somebody might see. That's what makes it exciting. Shall we, Erin?"

Well, I could only hope none of the residents with a view of our sixteenth-floor balcony were early risers. It was difficult to say no to my husband, though; he usually got his way, as he did that time.

I still thought about my fantasy, though. Sometimes, I would dream about it. On waking, my mind would be filled with sensual coolness, the remembered softness of an intimate touch, the glimmer of sunlight on skin. And I hoped that one day, when we traveled out of the city to an exotic foreign location, it might happen.

At the time the accident occurred, I was on my way to the Kruger Park in South Africa. Vince and I were driving in a convoy — well, by then, his rented Land Rover was a good few miles ahead. I was belted into the passenger seat of the Toyota while Bulewi, the driver, who must have been all of nineteen years old, clutched the steering wheel with tight fingers and peered anxiously through the rain-spattered windshield.

We had taken a wrong turn earlier in the afternoon and were now lost. We were driving down a dirt track so rugged and uneven it really didn't deserve to be called a road at all, in a storm so apocalyptic that it was like being inside a gigantic car wash. Sheets of water were being flung at the little Toyota from every direction. How Bulewi was seeing anything was a mystery to me, because in between the passes of the frantically moving wiper blades, I could find only a solid grayness.

Rain pounded on the car roof and the tires made a hissing sound as they cut through pooled water.

"Are you sure ..." I began, convinced we'd left the track and were now driving through uncharted bushveld. I was afraid to tear my gaze away from where I hoped the road was for even a moment, but I needed to check that the carefully packed bags and boxes of camera equipment hadn't shifted from their positions in the back seat during this bumpy ride.

As I looked around, the car tilted sickeningly to the left, bludgeoned by a wall of moving water, and I heard Bulewi yell, "Shit!"

The rushing sound suddenly grew much louder and I was aware we were falling, spinning, and then ...

Then nothing.

I have no memory of Bulewi fumbling to undo my seatbelt before escaping through his window into the cold, storming river. I recall only flashes of the gushing streams flooding inside, of the car growing heavier, becoming one with the body of water surrounding it. The level creeping upwards, covering my body, lapping at my face, trickling in between my parted lips and, as the car finally slipped under, submerging me completely so that my hair floated over my wide, sightless eyes.

Out of the blackness that followed, I surfaced into a vivid dream where Vince was making love to me by the side of a lake. His body pounded into mine with powerful, rhythmic strokes. His arms were enfolding me tightly; holding me so close that he crushed the air out of me. In his passion, his lips were bruising my own. I was overwhelmed by his presence, his strength.

"Don't leave me," he shouted. "Don't leave me! I'm not going to lose you!"

I wanted to tell him that he was never going to lose me, but I saw that the lake was rising, starting to engulf us. I feared that the waters would feel cold, but when they covered me, they were warm as blood. I reached for Vince, but could not find him. I understood suddenly that he had never been there at all; that I had been ravished by a stranger. Panicked, I cried out for my husband, willing myself to wake from this nightmare, but I could not rouse myself, and in my dream, I realized he was gone.

* * *

When I opened my eyes again, I was lying on my back and looking up into a roaring darkness.

My first thought: My head was aching, my throat was sore, and it hurt to breathe.

My second thought: I had no idea where the hell I was or how on earth I had gotten here. I was utterly disoriented.

I tried to sit up, an action that did little to improve my situation. My head spun as I propped myself on my right elbow, and a tube that was attached to my face by a piece of adhesive tape tugged painfully.

Vince. Where was he? What the hell was going on here?

"Help!" I shouted. Well, I tried to, but it came out as a hoarse, unrecognizable croak. Why was this tube here? I lifted my hand to feel. Cool air was filtering through it into my nostrils. Oxygen, I guessed.

And then a beam of light cut the darkness, pinning me in its glare, and a warm hand closed firmly over my left one.

"Easy," a man's voice said, the tone calm but authoritative. "Take it easy. You'll feel better if you lie down again."

Who was speaking? I had no idea. I blinked, the bright assault temporarily blinding me and leaving purple dots and slashes on my vision.

My heart was hammering as I lowered myself back down onto my pillow. I tried to speak again. Still no luck. The flashlight beam moved away from my face and pointed upward onto what appeared to be a high, thatched ceiling.

The speaker let go of my hand, leaving me feeling oddly alone. Then the tape was quickly removed and the tube lifted away from my face. He cupped his hand behind my head and raised it gently. A glass touched my lips. Water. I gulped greedily.

"That oxygen tank's just about finished," he told me, lowering me back to the pillow again. "You should be fine without it now, but let me know if you feel short of breath, or if you have any chest pain."

"What happened to me?" I asked. Finally, success. I could speak again.

"You almost drowned."

The speaker's voice was deep and compelling. I couldn't place his accent, although I could have listened to his voice all day. Or, in my current circumstance, all night.

"Where am I?"

"At Leopard Rock Lodge, near Kruger Park."

Now I could recall the details of our trip. Boarding the plane at JFK, landing at O.R. Tambo in Johannesburg. Packing our gear into the Land Rover and driving out of the city, through miles and miles of farmland, and then deeper into countryside that had become progressively wilder and more beautiful.

"Why are the lights off?" I asked, wondering for a moment if this lodge was so remote that it didn't even have electricity.

"The power went down in the storm. I don't know why yet. There's an emergency generator here, but the lights aren't connected up to it."

The storm ... new memories were beginning to surface. Panicked memories. The claustrophobic feel of being battered by tons of falling water. The slippery, squirming path of the car as it fought through liquid mud.

Cutting my gaze sideways I could see a darker shape against the darkness where he was, but that was all.

I moved my left hand and, sensing it perhaps, he grasped my hand again.

"Breathing all right?"

"I'm fine, thanks. Please tell me — where's Vince?" I tightened my fingers around his as I asked the question. He squeezed my hand back. His grasp was firm; his skin was smooth but not soft. His hand felt strong and capable, the same way his voice sounded. Its warmth was like a lifeline, holding me back from the darkness and confusion.

"Who's Vince?"

"My husband."

"He wasn't in the car with you." It was a statement, not a question.

"No, I ... he ..."

"Your driver said you were the only passenger."

"My driver! Bulewi. Is he okay?"

"Miraculously, yes. He got out of the car and managed to grab hold of a tree on the opposite side of the river, and climbed to safety just before the flood worsened. He said he tried to free you. He didn't manage, but he did undo your seatbelt, which could well have meant the difference between life and death when we reached you."

"Oh," I considered this for a while. "I'm so glad Bulewi is okay. Vince wasn't in the car with us. He was driving ahead, in the Land Rover."

"Then he would have got over the bridge. Your car was crossing just as it collapsed."

"So he's all right?"

"I assume so."

Relief filled me, but at the same time I couldn't help feeling a twinge of anxiety, knowing how angry Vince had been with me in the hours before the crash, and that it would be up to me to make things right between us.

"Can I call him?"

"The phone lines are down now. Hopefully they'll be back up tomorrow."

"What time is it?"

"About eight p.m."

I closed my eyes. I felt so tired, but at least the pain in my head was abating. A rapid drumming noise filled my ears. Rain on a high roof, the noise repetitive and strangely soothing. The storm hadn't stopped yet.

As I drifted into a dreamless sleep, comforted by the warm pressure of the stranger's fingers still touching my own, I couldn't help feeling a nagging certainty that there was something important missing. Something I'd forgotten about.

* * *

When I woke again, it was daytime.

I sat up. Doing so was easier than it had been the previous night. A golden expanse of thatch stretched above me, and light filtered in from a large window to my right, which was covered by a white curtain. The light was muted, as if I was seeing it through a deep grey lens. The bed itself was palatial; on a scale with the room, and the floor was tiled with large, pale gold granite slabs that echoed the warmth of the thatch.

"My camera!" I said aloud.

Oh, Jesus, my photographic equipment had all been in the car. Close to fifty thousand dollars' worth of cameras, lenses, flashes, tripods, memory sticks. Packed so carefully on the back seat, together with the Mac Air book, my luggage, and my purse with cash, credit cards, and passport inside.

I started to get out of bed, my heart pounding — thankfully, my head was not keeping time with it this morning — but realized as I swung my feet to the floor that my legs were bare and streaked with dried mud.

I was wearing no underwear either. The only garment I had on was an oversized pale grey T-shirt, in a soft fabric, with the elegant logo of a leopard outlined in black on its front.

I heard a light tap on the door and hastily scrambled back under the covers.

"Come in," I called, rather self-consciously.

The door swung open. A cheerful, middle-aged black woman with braided hair, wearing a smart, green-trimmed khaki pinafore and carrying a small pile of folded clothing, walked in.

"Good morning," she said, offering me a wide smile. "I'm Miriam. How are you feeling today?" Her voice was lilting and musical, accented with the flavor of her native language.

"I ... I'm fine, thanks."

She placed the pile of clothes on the ottoman at the foot of the bed. Outside, I saw the light was darkening again. Thunder growled and the rain began lashing at the window glass. Now I understood the reason for the odd, grey light. It was still storming outside. Why was it called sunny South Africa, I wondered, when it never seemed to stop raining here?

"Welcome to Leopard Rock Lodge," Miriam said, just as if I'd checked in like a paying guest.

"Is this a hotel?" A hotel with oxygen tanks in its store cupboard.

"It was originally planned to be. Now it is privately run." She smiled. "I have brought some clothes for you. Your underwear is dry now." She patted the pile. "But your jeans, not yet. If you look through here, you should find something that fits."

A hotel with oxygen tanks in its pantry and a selection of ladies' summer clothing? I "Thank you," I said.

"Mr. Nicholas said you should eat something, if you can. Breakfast will be served in half an hour, in the dining room down the passage. Or I can bring a tray to you in bed if you like."

Mr. Nicholas? I blinked at Miriam, wondering who he was. The man who'd held my hand last night? Then, as her words sank in, I realized that I was ravenous.

"I'll come to the dining room. And could I possibly use a phone? I need to make some urgent calls."

"I hope Mr. Nicholas can arrange it," she replied. It didn't sound like a very positive response. Perhaps the lines were still down, but in that case somebody must surely have a cell phone I could borrow.

Giving me another friendly smile, Miriam walked to the door and left the room, closing it gently behind her.

I planted my feet on the floor and stood up slowly. My long dark hair had dried in twisted clumps and I could feel grit in it, and on my scalp, as well as a few grains of sand in my mouth. Taking off the shirt, I found that moving and breathing were painful. My chest felt as if it had been pounded by a hammer and I had visible bruising on the inside of my left breast. From the seatbelt, perhaps? Surely not, if Bulewi had managed to undo it.

A khaki toiletry bag lay on top of the pile Miriam had brought. In it, I found a toothbrush and toothpaste, a small hairbrush, a mini shampoo and conditioner, and a travel pack that contained designer-brand body wash, scent, and skin care.

So, here I was, in what according to Miriam was an up-market lodge that was now in private hands. There was no phone in my room, I'd had my wet clothes removed while I was unconscious, and I was minus all my personal possessions, which were presumably somewhere at the bottom of a flooded river. A phone did not seem to be readily available, and I would have to await the mysterious Mr. Nicholas's pleasure if I wanted to make any calls. What was this place? Hotel California?

I could only hope that I would be able to call Vince first thing that morning to tell him where I was, and to stop the runaway train of disaster that had been set into motion yesterday.


Half an hour later, I was showered, with my hair combed but still damp, because the outlet for the hairdryer was not working — more power saving, I supposed. I was dressed in my own freshly laundered underwear, a large T-shirt, and cotton shorts that were approximately my size. I put on a pair of oversized sandals and fastened the straps tightly.

Then I followed the delicious aroma of coffee down the wide, tiled passage, and into a huge dining room with enormous glass doors at the far end. Through them, I could see grey sheets of rain fading into dull green haze.

Several tables of varying sizes were set out in the room, but only one was covered with a starched white cloth. I took a seat on one of the comfortably cushioned wooden chairs just as Miriam appeared through a side door, carrying a jug of coffee.

She placed in front of me a large porcelain mug with an artistic rendition of a zebra on it before pouring.

"Hot or cold milk?" she asked.

"No milk, thanks."


Excerpted from Drowning by Jassy de Jong. Copyright © 2014 Jassy De Jong. Excerpted by permission of Astor + Blue Editions.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Drowning 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
SherryMH More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written imagery, steamy romance scenes, and a bit of internal and external angst all round out Drowning by Jassy de Jong. When we first meet Erin, she is recovering from an automobile accident in a remote location in South Africa. It seems her host, Nicholas, is also her rescuer. Weaved throughout this story is the fact that Erin is a newlywed, and was traveling with her husband. The connection she feels to Nicholas is what drives the story, as is his attraction to Erin. Drowning is an erotic, contemporary romance that follows the intertwining lives of Erin and Nicholas. I don't feel that this is a cheating story, exactly. It's about finding the right love, at possibly the wrong time. What I can tell you is that the chemistry is incredible, the sexiness is abundant, and the imagery of the South African landscape was so believable that I felt I was right there. One thing that I didn't care for was Erin's wishy-washy ways, but even that could be believable since she was, in fact, married at the time of the wreck.I will say that Nicholas made for a great book boyfriend, even if he was just looking for a fling at the beginning. Strong, sexy, and absolutely swoon-worthy. A little suspense, a bit of guilt, and a lot of sexiness. Lust, love, and romance all have a place in the pages of Drowning. A great Sunday afternoon escape from real life.
TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Photographers Erin and Vince Mitchell have come to South Africa on assignment for a new shoot. After an argument, Erin and Vince are driving separately to the location when a flash flood hits. Vince wasn’t affected and managed to get to their hotel, but Erin’s car was washed away and she almost drowned. She was rescued by the owner of a luxurious safari lodge and wild animal refuge, but she’s now stranded there at Leopard Rock. When she meets the owner, Nicholas, she is struck by his gentle yet fierce nature and his rugged beauty. He offers her ‘no-strings’ days and nights filled with passion during her stay, but Erin is torn between temptation and the controlling nature of her husband. DROWNING is about one woman’s journey, not only physically but emotionally and sexually as well. Erin Mitchell is in an abusive relationship and her husband uses every trick in the book to keep her down and under his thumb. Nicholas sees Erin in a totally different way – as someone to cherish and adore. As domestic abuse is rampant across the globe, it was good to read a story where the lead female was able to escape the clutches of her abuser. In addition, the conservation and protection efforts for the wild African animals by Nicholas were a beautiful touch. DROWNING will touch your heart and soul and leave you wanting to bring more beauty into your own life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg this is an amazeballs book